Hot Chicks in Underpants

What kind of stories drives traffic? Wanna bet this is one?

I just watched a video of a woman showing off her apartment in her underpants. It was titled “Me and My Place.” It was handsomely shot and cleverly edited. Music by Spiritualized played in the background. I like the music of Spiritualized. The woman in the underpants was Carly Craig. She’s an actress. She’s in that new Three Stooges movie.

You probably never heard of Carly Craig, and you probably won’t see the movie, at least until it comes out on DVD, and maybe not even then.

Hardly matters. She’s showing us her place in underpants. No more to be said, am I right, fellows?

Want to see it? Knew you would. Here you go. Do I deliver or what?

I found the video when I went to the Esquire site to re-up my hard copy subscription. I like Esquire magazine. It’s gone through good phases and bad over the years. But in a really bad time for magazines, it’s been a pretty good time for Esquire. It wins awards. It’s smartly edited. And they’ve got Scott Raab, maybe the best magazine writer going these days. Best part, a subscription is only eight smacks.

The Esquire homepage is a virtual cornucopia of flash and trash—pretty uninspired. There’s a story titled “Best Beers of 2012” (urgh), another headlined “Ray-Ban’s Bold New Aviators Are Basically Indestructible” (advertiser crossover alert) and “William Shatner on Smoking Grass, the Afterlife + Much More” (the old- guys-like-other-old-guys theory at work).

Then you click the “Women” tab—and voila!

That’s right. Women have their own tab on the Esquire site. But you won’t find profiles about women on the move or women juggling kids and careers or women sounding off on how Republicans are trying to control their bodies.


Click the tab, and the page title tells you exactly what the women section is all about: “Sexy Women—Pictures of Hot Actresses and Models.”

Got to give Esquire props for truth in advertising.

One story is titled “How Great Is Draper’s Wife?”

Wait, look, sexy pictures of that chick in The Killing!

There’s a reason is fueling their website with “Sexy Women—Pictures of Hot Actresses and Models.”

Traffic. Like everyone, they want a lot of it. And they’re going old school to get it.

Funny, too, because though no one in traditional media has figured how to turn a serious buck on their website yet, the big bet remains in place—the bet being that someday someone will, and when that day comes, you best have the traffic poised, waiting and—as Esquire seems to believe—panting.

The battle is over positioning. To win, you’ve got to show up with your heavy artillery.

Chicks in underpants = heavy artillery.

But is it the right thing to do, to feature sexy women in very little at a time when women’s rights are taking hits from the right, at a time when women are fighting for the equality they thought they had earned decades back?

Don’t ask me. Until a few hours ago, I was planning to use this space to write about how the Pulitzer board decided not to bestow any prizes for fiction this year. It’s an outrage, if you ask me, especially with books like Denis Johnson’s Train Dreams and We the Animals, by Justin Torres, just to name two, being so worthy.

But then I stumbled on the chick-in-her-underpants video, and thought about all the traffic it would generate—especially with the right headline—and then I thought about how little traffic would come my way writing about the Pulitzer board.

If you’re going to play to win, you can’t be afraid to play in your underwear.